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  • 27 October, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Women's Representation in Parliament

Women's Representation in Parliament

  • In New Zealand, the percentage of women in the legislature recently surpassed 50%.
  • The Inter-Parliamentary Union reports that New Zealand is one of 12 countries worldwide that can say that by 2022, at least 50% of their parliaments will be made up of women.
  • New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote in 1893.
  • Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and the United Arab Emirates are more countries.
  • Around 26% of lawmakers worldwide are female.

The Indian Scenario of women in Parliament

According to data gathered by the IPU, of which India is a member, women make up 14.44% of all Lok Sabha members.

According to the Election Commission of India's (ECI) most recent data:

  • 10.5% of the Parliament's total MPs are women as of October 2021.
  • With a national average of a pitiful 9%, the situation for women Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) in all state assemblies in India is much worse.
  • Women's representation in Lok Sabha has not even risen 10% in the past 75 years of independence.
  • India dropped from 117 following the 2014 election to 143 as of January 2020 in the Inter-Parliamentary Union's global ranking of women's parliamentary representation in terms of electoral representation.
  • India is now ahead of Sri Lanka and behind Pakistan (106), Bangladesh (98), and Nepal (43).

What causes the low representation, and why?

Sexist attitudes:

  • Women have historically been tasked with managing home chores.
  • Women should be encouraged to step outside of their preconceived roles and take part in national decision-making.
  • Politics is a competitive field, just like any other field. At the end of the day, they are also up against female politicians.
  • Many politicians worry that if there is a woman's reservation, their seats might be alternately allocated for female candidates, denying them the opportunity to even run for office.

Political education is lacking:

  • Education affects women's social mobility. Formal education, such as that offered at educational institutions, fosters leadership chances and instills crucial leadership abilities.
  • They are unaware of their basic and political rights since they do not comprehend politics.

Work and Family:

  • Due to the unequal allocation of household care duties, women spend significantly more time than males caring for the home and children.
  • In addition to putting in time and effort during pregnancy and childbirth, a woman must continue to do so until the child has to be taken care of by her parents.

Political networks are lacking:

  • For all newcomers, but particularly for women since they frequently lack insider information or political networks, the lack of transparency in political decision-making and the undemocratic internal processes provide a problem.

Insufficient resources:

  • Women in India struggle to gather money and support to grow their political constituencies because of their limited representation in the inner structures of the political parties.
  • Political parties do not provide enough financial backing for women to run in elections.
  • They must comply with the rules that are placed on them and carry the weight of society due to social conditioning.
  • The number of female candidates who are considered and nominated for office is directly and indirectly influenced by public opinions, as well as how many of them actually win in a general election.

Unfriendly Environment:

  • In general, political parties do not provide a supportive environment for women. Women must fight hard and deal with a variety of challenges in order to have a place in the party.
  • Politics has become more violent recently. Women are no longer active in politics due to a major increase in crime, corruption, and insecurity.

What actions is the government taking?

The Women's Reservation Act2008:

  • It suggests amending the Indian Constitution to reserve one-third of all seats in the Lok Sabha, the country's Lower House of Parliament, as well as in all state legislative bodies, for women.

Reservation for Women in Panchayati Raj Institutions:

  • Article 243D of the Constitution mandates that not less than one-third of the total number of seats to be filled by direct election and the total number of offices of Panchayat chairpersons be reserved for women. This guarantees the participation of women in Panchayati Raj Institutions.

The Committee on Empowerment of Women:

  • It was established for the first time in 1997 during the 11th Lok Sabha of the Parliament with the goal of enhancing women's status.
  • Regardless of their political inclinations, the Committee members are supposed to collaborate for the empowerment of women.

Way Forward

  • The equal engagement of all segments of society in mainstream political action is urgently needed in a nation like India, hence suitable steps should be done to encourage it.
  • The Women's Reservation Bill, which asks for reserving 33% of seats in Parliament and all state legislative assemblies for women, must be approved by all major parties.
  • There is a pool of women who have served as sarpanches and members of municipal bodies for more than three decades and have expertise with local government.
  • They are eager to participate more actively in state legislatures and Parliament.
  • In order for the recognised political parties to continue to be recognised by the Election Commission as political parties, it is necessary to put into practise the ECI's proposal to make it mandatory for them to ensure that a minimum agreed-upon percentage of women vote in State Assembly and Parliamentary elections.

Read Also: Women Transforming India Awards

Source: IPU

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